WE are always busy, aren’t we? Is anyone in public relations ever not busy? As things are, it is difficult to even find time to sleep, let alone do anything else. But it’s those other things outside of work—those things we call hobbies—that may spell the difference between burnout and productivity in the workplace.
A study published in March 2020 on the Journal of Vocational Behavior highlighted the importance of engaging in leisure activities, especially for those people in high-stress jobs. The positive impact of having hobbies is reflected in the various psychological resources that people need to have to be productive at work and to maintain career sustainability.
One such psychological resource is self-efficacy, or “the strength of your conviction in your abilities,” researchers Ciara Kelly, Karoline Strauss, John Arnold, and Chris Stride noted in their paper titled “The relationship between leisure activities and psychological resources that support a sustainable career: The role of leisure seriousness and work-leisure similarity.”
Self-efficacy contributes to a sustainable career, which the researchers defined as “one in which the employee is healthy, productive, happy, and employable throughout its course, and that fits into, rather than takes over, an employee’s life as a whole.”
While engaging in any kind of hobby may help give you a sense of balance, not all hobbies are created equal in terms of their positive effects on self-efficacy and career sustainability. The best hobbies, according to the study, are those that were either high in seriousness and low in similarity to the individual’s job, or low in seriousness and high in work-leisure similarity.
A good mix
ONE example of a good work-leisure mix is that of National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab. He has been a prolific musician, composer, arranger, conductor, and music mentor for decades. He has written countless OPM (Original Pilipino Music) classics, ad jingles, movie and TV theme songs, and theater musicals throughout his career, and has served as mentor and coach of many of the country’s finest musical artists.
What not many people know is that he also has a talent in the visual arts. He took up painting as a hobby during the pandemic, churning out artwork after artwork after realizing how happy it made him to paint. Just last month, Landbank of the Philippines unveiled a painting that they commissioned Cayabyab to make as part of its 60th anniversary celebration.
Mr. C remains passionate about music—his career—but admits that he gets a different kind of high when he paints. He has found himself lost in his brush strokes numerous times, often losing track of time. He has posted many of his paintings on his social media account, prompting friends to encourage him to hold an exhibit.
His hobby obviously carries a high degree of seriousness, as evidenced by the amount of time and effort it takes to finish one artwork, the calls for the conduct of an exhibit, and the artwork commission that he recently fulfilled. On the other hand, the skills he uses when engaging in this hobby are low in similarity to those he uses for his day job.
Let’s go back to the formula for leisure activities that contribute positively to self-efficacy and career sustainability: high in seriousness + low similarity to line of work = a seriously good work-leisure mix.
Some hobbies may not produce the same results, given the formula that the research identified. For example, a journalist who maintains a blog as a hobby may not derive the same benefits as a chef that engages in the same activity.
This is because blogging requires the same set of skills that the journalist needs and uses in their day job. The chef, on the other hand, employs an entirely different skill set when they write their blog posts. I tested this formula myself, just to have a gauge of how accurate it is when applied to real life.
I remember a time when I would read every night before I sleep. It was part of my nightly ritual. At one point, I was able to read more than 40 books in a year, including a few that were more than 600 pages long. But I eventually got too busy to read, so much that reading just 12 books in a year became too difficult to manage. I tried to pick up the habit again early this year, and found that reading did make a huge difference in my overall disposition, including at work. I somehow felt lighter after reading a few chapters of a good book.
It is true that finding time to engage in a hobby is tough, especially for us who work in an always-on industry. The short- and long-term positive benefits of doing so, however, should be enough to convince us—yes, including me—to deliberately carve out some time, even just a few minutes a week, to do something that makes us feel happier, lighter, and less stressed.
Just be more deliberate in your choice of leisure activities, too. If you want to engage in serious activities, choose those that are not too similar to the things you do for a living. If you want to still use your career-related skills, engage in hobbies that are lighter. Whatever formula you choose to follow, you will surely end up thanking yourself when you feel the positive effects on your career and personal life.
PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premier organization for PR professionals around the world. Abigail L. Ho-Torres is AVP and Head of Customer Experience of Maynilad Water Services, Inc. She spent more than a decade as a business journalist before making the leap to the corporate world.
We are devoting a special column each month to answer our readers’ questions about public relations. Please send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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